As reported by Chuks Okocha and Reuben Buhari in Abuja of ThisDay Newspaper.There seems to be no let-up in the recriminations between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), which yesterday described the ruling party as a sinking ship that had drifted away from the vision of its founding fathers.PDM has come under attack from members, who are still in the PDP, criticised them for attempts to incite disaffection against the new party, which until its recent registration, was a pressure group in the polity. Mallam Bashir Yusuf the PDM Chairman, spoke on a day the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) allayed fears that the emergence of both the PDM and the proposed Voice of the People (VOP), both of which have strong northern sponsors, would impair the North’s cohesion in the race to the 2015 polls. The PDM Chairman, who spoke in Abuja after a meeting with a governorship aspirant of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) from Anambra State, Igwebuike Ifeanyi Hyger, who came to complete formalities to contest the state governorship election on the platform of the new party, said the party would field any candidate for the election in compliance with the party’s guidelines.He spoke on the heels of the criticism of the registration of the party by the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, who is also a member of the PDM before its registration as a party.Anenih, in a statement on Sunday, had said the registration of PDM as a party was wrong as it was not in line with the vision of the founding fathers of the group, founded by the Second Republic politician, the late Maj.-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. However, Yusuf decried the activities of the group’s members in PDP opposed to the transformation of PDM into a party, saying they were all part of the resolution at a meeting in Abuja, to register it as a party.
On why PDM split from PDP, Yusuf said: “We didn't actually split from the PDP. What happened was that PDP in our view left Nigeria. And it has left Nigerians. So, it is actually the PDP that has drifted not us. And we decided to assert our identity because to be honest with you, the acronym PDP is a corruption of the acronym PDM. PDP was kicked-started by PDM and it was the M at the end of the PDM that was removed that made it PDP that is from movement to party."But what we stood for when we formed the PDP is still what we stand for today as PDM. But unfortunately, the PDP has drifted from those ideals we stand for and we decided not to be part of the sinking ship but to stay with the principles, which we have known. And to stay on the side of Nigeria and Nigerians and allow the PDP to drift alone until it crashes."
On whether former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar could contest the 2015 presidential election on the platform of the new party, Yusuf said: "It is not for me to say Atiku is a member of PDP not PDM. I have read in certain papers where he asserted his membership of the PDP. So unless he becomes a member of the PDM, we are not going to start talking about whether he will use our platform or not. But this gives me an opportunity to say every Nigerian is welcome to come and join us and be members of the PDM."
He promised that the party would allow a level-playing field for all aspirants seeking to run for elective offices on its platform.On who would fly the party’s flag in the November governorship election in Anambra State, he said the candidate must comply with due process.According to him, "We also told them we don't give fiat to our people to go and run on our platform we will set a process in place through which a flag bearer will emerge and who ever emerges as our flag bearer will fly our flag.“By Monday, the window for candidates will close, if the processes we are going to put in place will not be able to produce a candidate by Monday, then we won't have a candidate for the election in Anambra State. The bottom line is that a candidate must pass through a process and if that process will not be within that deadline, then we rather not have a candidate than have a candidate by fiat."He explained that members of the PDM, who last week faulted the registration of the party were part of the resolution to register it, adding that they changed their position on the registration PDM after they were invited for a meeting with the same PDP leaders."Unfortunately, politics in Nigeria is characterised by falsehood, hypocrisy and treachery. If you don't know how to do this by the definition of most Nigerian politicians, you are not a good politician. This same people who have become so outspoken about not being members of PDM we don't begrudge them for being members of PDP; it is their choice. Nigeria is a free country and the constitution guarantees freedom of association. But the same freedom they have to associate with PDP is the same freedom we have to associate with the PDM and I don't see any conflict here. People are looking for crisis where none exists at all."
"We started this journey together we took the decision to register the PDM as a political party together." Admittedly of all those who signed that they were not in support of the registration only three were part of the defunct management committee of PDM. And that management is no longer in existence with the registration of PDM. It was supposed to be the management of registering the PDM itself. And that process has been concluded. Only 10 days after the process was done by INEC, I went to the management committee and presented them with the registration of PDM. This same people where part of the meeting and I was commended for leading the registration process of PDM as a political party. There was a resolution that congratulated me for successfully registering PDM as a political party.But you know we are up against a very vicious behemoth called the PDP. Before you know it, some of the people were called in and I have heard so many stories. I don't want to rely on stories but, their story began to change, they said we were never part of it,"Yusuf added.
Also yesterday, the ACF dismissed speculations that the emergence of PDM and VOP would affect the north’s desire to speak and act in unison ahead of the 2015 polls, saying the geopolitical zone has always operated successfully under more than one political party.ACF spokesperson, Mr. Anthony Sani, told THISDAY that even though the forum favours a two-party system, the emergence of PDM and the proposed VOP would not politically divide the north.“While ACF is favourably disposed to not many parties, but to a two-party system that can provide voters with clear choices during elections about which political party has well-articulated manifestos and programmes that can address the myriad of problems in the polity, I do not share the views that the recent registration of more political parties (like PDM and proposed VOP) said to be inspired by northerners is designed to vandalise the North.
“It is too early to forget that the North has always been under more than one political party. Consider Alhaji Shehu Shagari contested against Mallam Aminu Kano and Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim in the North and with the duo of Awo and Zik during the Second Republic, yet he (Shagari) won."
“So it is still possible for the North to be united by people who are socially diverse, economically empowered and politically active.”
However, Senator Joseph Waku, who also spoke to THISDAY on the issue, said those who have become opposition to the PDP, should have teamed up with the All Progressives Congress (APC), which to him is the only opposition party with national spread, instead of forming smaller parties.He added that if truly their desire is to address the problems of the North, they should forget their differences and work for one common goal through an achievable avenue.